Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fun With TD

Or, The Myth Of Brett Favre's Heroic 2007 Comeback Victories

TD (in the comments here) thinks that Aaron Rodgers would not have been able to come from behind in a few games in 2007. Specifically the Eagles, Giants, Redskins, Broncos games. I beg to differ. Let’s take a look. (This was too long for a comment.)

Brett Favre v. Eagles, Week 1, 2007

23/42, 206 yards, 0 TDs, 1 pick.

Packers win the game on this play:

(1:09) 9-J.Ryan punts 29 yards to PHI 31, Center-60-R.Davis. 30-J.Reed MUFFS catch, RECOVERED by GB-24-J.Bush at PHI 31. 24-J.Bush to PHI 31 for no gain (87-B.Celek).

They then run 3 times to set up a Mason Crosby FG.

On the Drive before that with the game tied, Captain Comeback had the following thing happen to him:

(4:26) 4-B.Favre sacked at GB 43 for -9 yards (58-T.Cole). FUMBLES (58-T.Cole), RECOVERED by PHI-93-J.Kearse at GB 38. 93-J.Kearse to GB 38 for no gain (76-C.Clifton).

Now that's clutch right there.

Brett Favre v. Giants, Week 2, 2007

29/38, 3TDs 1 INT

This isn’t a come from behind victory. The Pack was up 14-13 entering the 4th quarter. As frequent commenter and Giants fan Jon will tell you, much of the Giant defense was hurt in this game and the late outpouring of offense by the Packers was unsurprising. The Giants also had 3 people take snaps at QB, and I assume Eli was dinged for part of it. A nice game from Favre, but against this Giant team, not all that impressive. If he’d done this against them the second time, that would have been pretty cool.

Favre v. Washington Redskins, Week 6, 2007

19/37, 0 TDs, 2 INTs

The Packers overcome a terrible game from Favre on this play in the Third Quarter:

(2:21) 89-S.Moss left end to GB 43 for no gain (99-C.Williams). FUMBLES (99-C.Williams), RECOVERED by GB-21-C.Woodson at GB 43. 21-C.Woodson for 57 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Charles would add a second fumble recovery later to ice the game. Favre would let the Skins back into the game several times, but ultimately Woodson saved the say.

Favre v. Broncos, Week 8, 2007

21/27, 331, 2 TDs, 0 INTs

Numbers in Regulation:

20/26, 249 Yards, 1 TD

Brett made a great 85 yard TD pass on the first play of overtime to nail down the win. Great! Heroic! Fantastic! Uhm, one question…why were they in overtime with only 13 points scored in regulation?

Perhaps it was clutch play like this in the 4th quarter:

• 1-10-GB 45 (15:00) 25-R.Grant left tackle to GB 49 for 4 yards (97-S.Rice; 55-D.Williams).
• 2-6-GB 49 (14:14) PENALTY on GB-4-B.Favre, Delay of Game, 5 yards, enforced at GB 49 - No Play.
• 2-11-GB 44 (13:53) (Shotgun) 4-B.Favre pass short left to 25-R.Grant to DEN 48 for 8 yards (52-I.Gold; 32-D.Bly).
• 3-3-DEN 48 (13:15) (Shotgun) 4-B.Favre sacked at GB 46 for -6 yards. FUMBLES, and recovers at GB 46. 4-B.Favre to GB 46 for no gain (92-E.Dumervil).
• 4-9-GB 46 (12:46) 9-J.Ryan punts 54 yards to end zone, Center-60-R.Davis, Touchback.

It was, in fact Denver and Jay Cutler who marched the length of the field (starting from their own 7) on the last drive of regulation to tie the game at 13 on a late Elam FG, after a Packer drive stalled on a dropped pass from James Jones. I hate when that happens.

Aside from the 82 yard TD pass to Jennings in OT, and an earlier 79 yard pass to Jones, Favre was 19/25 for 170 yards, or under 10 yards per completion. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good game overall (you can't just discount those completions), it was just a very boom and bust game in which Favre did as much to lose the game as win it.

The Packers caught a lot of breaks that year and often won games in spite of, and not because of, their aged QB. I still maintain that given the same luck, Rodgers would have had basically the same season.


TD said...

Of course you think that Rogers had nothing to do with several close losses in 2008 where the Packers were down by 1 score or tied and had the ball with at least 1:15 to go ...

Tenn: Took the ball with 4:24 tied at 16. Drive stalls on @ Titan 43 after 2 yard completion following 2 incomplete passes. 1-3 Packers lose in OT.

Carolina: Took the ball with 1:19 to go down 35-31. Intercepted on 2nd play from scrimmage

Houston: Tied 21-21, took over with 4:37 to go. Drive stalled at Houston 38 yard line after Rogers takes a sack on 2nd and 17 from the Houston 29 yard line.

Jacksonville: Trailing 30-26, took over with 1:56 to go. Intercepted on 2nd and 2 with 46 seconds left.

TD said...

This is to say nothing of not being able to get any closer than a 52 yard FG attempt after starting a drive from their own 41 yard line agains the Vikings in the Dome down by 1 with 2:22 to go. But Crosby is the one who gets blamed for that loss. Or when he was unable to get them a score after taking over at the Chicago 35 Yard line, tied at 17 with 3:11 to go, and wind up settling for a FG attempt that gets blocked.

Now, in fairness, I didn't include them in the original list because the play calling was primarily geared towards getting a FG try, and ultimately they got that. But the fact that they didn't even try to get to the end zone,and instead put it on a 2nd year kicker with one game winning FG in his career may say something about the confidence the coaching staff had in him to be able to get them into the end zone.

The game ending interceptions he threw last year would have gotten Favre excoriated around here ... and the sack he took against Houston was inexcusable.

I chalk them up to him being a first year starter. I'm ok with that. But to think that Favre would not have engineered winning drives in at least half of those 6 games last year, seems silly to me.

TD said...

I was always taught that luck is a product of opprotunity intersecting with preparation,a nd I believe it. You think its just coincidence that the Packers got so 'Lucky' with Favre in '07 and so 'unlucky' with a first year starter at QB in '08?

From a guy who, if I'm correct, is a subscriber to sabermetrics, I'm suprised to hear you speak of luck at all, quite frankly.

PaulNoonan said...

Why? Favre isn't that good at coming from behind. He has a lot of 4th quarter comebacks mainly because he's played in a lot of games. He also melts down a lot when trying to come back, and throws game-killing interceptions.

He may have come back in a few more, but I don't think you can say that with any amount of certainty, and in the event that he had a season last year like the season he had last year (which is to say, the actual season he had last year) where he threw as many picks as TDs, they probably wouldn't have been close enough to come back in the first place.

Anyway, my point is to show that the games you cited as Favrealicious come-from-behind victories were nothing of the sort.

PaulNoonan said...

SABRmetrics deals with luck all the time. It attempts to separate random events from repeatable skills. For instance, research has shown that causing fumbles is a repeatable skill, recovering them is not, and teams that do not recover around 50% of fumbles in a given year tend to regress to the mean the following year.

One big indicator for teams is 3rd down success v. 1st and 2nd down success. Teams should have about the same success rate on every down (or, at least, a predictable success rate on every down). 3rd down, however, is more important than 1st and 2nd down because not converting results in a turnover. If a team tends to be good on 1st and 2nd down, but bad on 3rd for a year, that team almost always improves drastically the next year as their third down success catches up. Works on defense too.

Anyway, last year's team was extremely odd. Their record in close games and their third down percentage suggested an improvement this year offensively.

SABRfolk use luck all the time. BABIP and LD% are all luck based stats.

Football is also far more prone to being influenced by luck in the first place. Baseball has all of those games to even itself out. Bad teams sometimes do great things in football, and good teams often flame out.

PaulNoonan said...

Not sure how much of this will fit, but from the FO Almanac this year:

Luck is the word that repeatedly comes up, for better or worse, when
analyzing the 2008 Packers. It’s extremely hard for a team to go 0-7 in games decided by four
points or less; only two teams have done it in the past 25 years, and these two teams (the 1994
Panthers and the 2001 Titans) improved their record by a combined 11 games in the subsequent
season. There’s a 0.04 (virtually nonexistent) correlation between a
team’s performance in such close games from year-to-year, so this had nothing to do with some mantra about the Packers “knowing how to win.” It was a mix of bad luck, bad play, and poor timing. The Packers couldn’t give away wins fast enough
in close games. Standard-issue unlucky teams lose on
last-second field goals, but the Packers were no ordinary
team. They lost to the Titans when Rob Bironas
got a second chance at a game-winning field goal
in overtime. Up three with time running out against
Carolina, Green Bay let Steve Smith get open deep
for a 54-yard pass play that set up a game-winning
DeAngelo Williams plunge. They didn’t even take
other teams’ largesse; when the Bears gave the Packers
the ball inside their territory thanks to a kickoff
penalty with three minutes
left in a tied Week
16 game, Green Bay
drove into field goal
range and promptly had
their shot at a game-winning
field goal blocked.
Needless to say, they lost
in overtime. According
to DVOA, Green Bay’s
defense was ninth-best
in the league through
the first three quarters of
the game, but 25th in the
fourth quarter.
The fact that the Packers
were able to actually
make it to six wins with
such ineptitude at the
end of games is pretty remarkable.
Because of the
underlying performance
that drove the team to
those six wins and those
close losses, virtually every
advanced metric you
can name pegs last year’s
Packers team as far superior
to your standard 6-10
fare. For one, DVOA says that the 2008 Packers were
the best 6-10 team over the 15 seasons that constitute
the “DVOA Era” (Table 1). Only one team that went
6-10 with a positive DVOA had a losing record the
following season. Both our estimated wins metric and
the Pythagorean projection derived from the Packers’
points scored and against indicate a team that should
have been closer to 9-7, not 6-10.

Eric said...

Stats are a funny thing. Favre haters always point to his record interceptions. What they don't look at are attempts / interceptions; a ratio that is lower even than that of Bart Starr.

Even if we call the stats war a draw the fact remains that Rodger's best years are ahead of him. Favre is a specimen but he's too old to be the franchise.

Given a choice between quarterbacks i would still take Favre but for sentimental reasons. The Green Bay Packers could ill afford to be sentimental. They faced the Montana / Young scenario and made the correct choice.

I'm glad Rodgers is starting yet i'm glad Favre is still playing. Watching him is like watching Tiger Woods; you're going to see something special.

For Favre's sake i'm gad he's not in Green Bay anymore. He would have died last night.

At what point do we take McCarthy to task for zone blocking?

Eric said...

Paul, i'm looking at the Denver example. What exactly did Favre do to lose the game? Quoting now "...Favre did as much to lose the game as win it.

PaulNoonan said...

Average under 10 yards a completion except for two passes? Took a delay of game penalty and fumbled in the fourth quarter?

Eric said...

THanks Paul. I'm a bit baffled by that first one. THe West Coast offense is designed around short high percentage passes. Given that, and given the system's been successful enough for most teams to adopt, how does it contribute to losing a game vice winning it?

Yeah fumbles are no good. My questions here is responsibility. If a quarterback fumbles does the line have any impact? Or is it strictly the quarterbacks fault for fumbling.

I'm inclined to think it's entirely the quarterback's fault. If so however this would seem to make Rodgers a much lesser quarterback than i'm inclined to believe.

PaulNoonan said...

Rodgers definitely holds the ball too long, and Favre is very good at getting the ball out quickly, but i think that will develop with time, and Rodgers is still very good despite holding the ball too long. If he can fix it, he'll be even better.

Eric said...

Very much agreed!

Other topic points...

I'm still curious about the yards per completion. Is less than ten yards considered bad. I rregret i'm not able to check stats but my understanding of the west coast is that this is normal.

Tangent... Should thompson have traded Favre to the Vikings outright? I wonder if we couldn't have struck a Much, no, MUCH better deal than a now discarded third rounder from the Jets.